I was asked to produce a brief note setting out some of the context and challenges facing housing associations.
The note was to inform thinking as part of a strategy discussion taking place somewhere in England.
I took that brief note and elaborated upon it a bit.
Given that the discussion was couched in pretty broad terms, it may be of interest to others. So I’ve posted the resulting document on Scribd and you can access it here beneath the fold.
Uncertain Terrain: Issues and challenges facing housing associations
As a non-specialist I found this a very interesting post. Thanks a lot
In terms of your statement
“Those who are found to be statutorily homeless and the long term benefit-dependent will increasingly be housed in the private rented sector”
How are landlords in the private rented sector to be found for the statutorily homeless and the long term benefit-dependent? Will housing associations take on the role of a conventional letting agent here to make the system comprehensible to the client and provide reassurance to the landlord. And if yes, is this one of the expansions to their business model that you foresee (presumably the HA would take a cut of the rent as commission as per conventional letting agents)
Marge – I think the answer to your questions is that all sorts of arrangements are possible. The local authority is required to establishe that private rented accommodation that is used for discharge of duty is of an adequate standard. There are a range of arrangements that can exist in terms of long term leasing. Housing associations can be involved as managing agents or landlords. I wouldn’t be surprised if housing associations became more involved in providing this type of accommodation. But the economics of it are uncertain, as witnessed by the pre-emptive notices to quit issued by some London landlords.
I think the big issue you have missed is the growing dichotomy between associations which are consolidating their business around the development and management of housing and those which are diversifying their businesses to be much wider social players. New Charter in Manchester typifies this running 3 schools now and more to follow, saving and owning the local newspaper, undertaking family intervention work, the list goes on. You could argue this is taking the sector back to its roots as social agents (Bourneville being a good but not the only answer) versus those which just wished to provide better housing.
Paul – Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I missed that point entirely – it is in there somewhere. But I don’t go into details and examples, and on reflection I could have elaborated upon the distinction a bit more fully. Also, in the last section when I talk about values I am a bit preoccupied with the more commercial/private finance approach and its impact on mission/values. You are surely right to argue that it is possible for housing associations to move forward in a way that sees them effectively returning to their roots, and in the process strengthening their sense of social purpose.